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Rico Report: Every Draft Class Since 1995

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On the latest episode of The Rico Report, our host revisited every Buffalo Bills draft class since 1995. Who was a bust? Which picks played out? Who did we miss on? Let’s get into it.

Every Draft Class Since 1995 (6:38)

The Buffalo Bills, much like every other NFL team, have selected innumerable players since their induction. Dating back to 1995, however, we’ve seen limited draft success. It was part of that foundational failure that created our 18 year playoff drought. Good players came, and often went, leaving us with limited tools to try and win games with. With a mess of less greats than ghouls, the team’s draft history was particularly putrid. We saw a few gems, but not enough.

There was legendary Buffalo Bills guard Ruben Brown, selected 14th overall in 1995, or that 1996 draft class featuring WR Eric Moulds. Controversially, Antowain Smith was a first-round running back in 1997. That 1998 class was an overwhelming dud, but in 1999 they drafted CB Antoine Winfield, then selected the great Peerless Price.

Duds like Erik Flowers (2000) preceded the 2001 season, where Nate Clements, Aaron Schobel, and Travis Henry all hit. That 2002 draft saw one of the worst busts in Buffalo Bills history, Mike Williams. From Willis McGahee, coming off of a major injury, to the trade up for J.P. Losman, we went through it all.

Buffalo Bills Kyle Williams Marcell Dareus Mario Williams draft class
Buffalo Bills Press Release

Cultural diamonds like Kyle Williams in the fifth round of 2006, to Stevie Johnson in ’08 and Eric Wood in the ’09 draft class, made an impact. There were many more players, like them, who deserved better. Don’t forget about Aaron Williams, either. Some of our worst picks, like Aaron Maybin at 11th overall in 2009, to E.J. Manuel in 2013, may have cost us the future of our team at the time. Who’s to say where we’d be today if we simply picked someone else? The NFL Draft is the core of every franchise. Regularly failing to secure the difference makers meant we were in limbo for two decades.

Turning Of The Tide (38:17)

Things improved in the 2010s, as we closed in on greatness. Marcell Dareus was a stud, drafted right next to future Buffalo Bills DE Von Miller. Stephon Gilmore went on to win a DPOY award, and Robert Woods is still a contender at WR. Things didn’t truly begin to turn around until we traded down in 2017, selecting CB Tre’Davious White at pick #27. That draft had featured plenty of foundational talent, and it laid the bedrock for one of the most important picks in team history.

Elsa/Getty Images

The journey to get Josh Allen at 7th overall in 2018 was a long one, but worth every moment. The success we’ve seen with him is paramount to the winning culture of Buffalo today. From 2017 to the present, our draft classes have made the team who we are, and can demand more of the same moving forward. This team is on the cusp of winning it all. It only takes one year.

The Rest Of The Show

Rico also touched on the argument for drafting a running back in round one (1:10:20), and did one final mock draft (1:34:40) before it was too late. For all this and more, check out the latest episode of The Rico Report on the Buffalo Fanatics YouTube channel.

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